Jam ! (, 1er septembre 2004

Since her 1993 release “Debut,” Björk has used her musical fountain pen to sketch elaborate portraits of husky romance and dreamy trip-hop.

Following her departure from the Sugercubes in 1992, Björk built a vast home that today boasts multilayered musical rooms in which her famous shrieks meld with symphonic melodies to evoke a cozy, livedin feeling.

Having worked with a variety of collaborators (Nellee Hooper, Talvin Singh, Marius de Vries, Matmos, Tricky, RZA) to create tunes that magically fuse melancholic subtleties with warm intentions, it comes as a sweet surprise that on “Medúlla,” the singer’s seventh studio release, she decides to strip herself of the heavy instrumentation, favoured on previous releases like “Homogenic” and “Vespertine,” and instead relies on the near-naked sounds of her own voice with only a sprinkling of keyboards and electronic beats.

Using an odd amalgam of passengers that includes Mike Patton from Faith No More, the Roots’ Rahzel, Canadian Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq Gillis, the Icelandic and London choirs and sixties fusion rock artist Robert Wyatt, the Icelandic songstress weaves a vocal tapestry that builds on the dark musings that punctuated 2001’s “Vespertine.”

On the album’s opening track, “Pleasure Is All Mine,” she whispers and coos softly to a lover whom she promises to be the “generous one.”

The choral “Where Is The Line” in which Björk and Patton trade promises like ‘I want to go out of my way for you’ and ‘I want to help you’ augments the paucity of the prayer-like “Show Me Forgiveness.”

Later, she eschews electronic beats and crafts a ballad for her and Robert Wyatt to wade through. The contagious longing on “Submarine” bubbles over on “Desired Constellation,” which evokes earlier tracks like “Hidden Place” and “Headphones.”

And if she is content to let listeners wade in the shallow end of the sparse swishes that make up “Vökuró” and “Öll Birtan,” she envelops all sensory perceptions on the breathy, beat-box laden “Who Is It (Carry My Joy On The Left, Carry My Pain On The Right),” “Triumph Of The Heart” and “Oceania,” which she sang at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Pairing gooey purrs with grooves provided by a human trombone might not seem like a good idea, but when Björk is the one making the arrangements the effect is spine tingling.

par Mark Daniell publié dans Jam ! (